Here are some guidelines to help you coach your students toward persuasive writing success.
Objective: To teach students how to develop a solid structure for persuasive essay writing.
Create an Organized Essay Structure
Remind students that an essay, whether it is persuasive or expository, must have a clear beginning, middle, and end. If students are using the standard, five paragraph model, then the following would apply:
Each paragraph should have a topic sentence, a body, and a conclusion sentence
Thesis must be clearly identified in the introductory paragraph
Three body paragraphs must centralize on one key point of an argument
Each key point should have at least one well-developed example to illustrate its relevance
Conclusion must restate key points as well as teach the reader something
Make Your Essay Structure Obvious
Students should be reminded that what seems clear in their minds while they are writing can often seem obscure to the reader. Therefore, student writers should diligently state their case as overtly as possible. One way to do this is to incorporate meaningful transitions, such as
- On the other hand
- One may argue that….. however,
- To illustrate,
- For example,
- For instance,
Use Examples To Develop A Persuasive Argument
Novice writers need to be guided toward developing a convincing argument. They can do this by identifying succinct examples that illustrate the key points they are trying to make. If a student is writing a standard five paragraph high school essay, she may want to consider limiting her illustrations to one detailed example in each body paragraph. Each example should then serve as a tool to further the writer’s argument.
Students often get carried away with listing many short examples rather than using them as a deliberate tool to make a point in their argument. Therefore, teachers can encourage them to analyze their examples in the respective body paragraphs. They can do this by responding to the following:
- Explain why the example is important
- Describe how the example relates back to the main point you are trying to make in that body paragraph
- Make the connection clear between the example and your overarching argument.
- Guide Your reader toward adopting your perspective
Challenge Yourself While Writing
While your students embark on the drafting process, remind them to keep a few key questions in mind to improve their persuasive tone. Instruct your students to constantly ask themselves
- So what?
- Why is the point I’m trying to make?
- How does this sentence further my argument?
- How can I retaliate to a reader harboring an opposite viewpoint?
- How can I make my purpose clear to readers?
- What do I want my readers to do or think after they read my essay?
Finally, encourage your students to observe the following tips in order to develop a persuasive tone:
- Anticipate and challenge the reader’s possible opposing viewpoint
- Avoid a hostile or condescending tone
- Be instructive or informative without resorting to a solely expository approach
- Make clear connections between your examples and your argument
These suggestions offer students lots of food for thought while they are drafting their essays. By answering these questions, students will be guided toward developing a persuasive tone in their essays rather than being solely informational.